Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

The Judiciary’s Role in Fundamental Transformation

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Judiciary’s Role in Fundamental Transformation

On Nov. 21, 2013, on a near party-line vote, the Democratic-controlled United States Senate eliminated the possibility of a filibuster on confirmation votes for many federal appointments. The new rule allows nominations for most executive positions and all lower court federal judgeships to move forward in the Senate with a simple majority vote rather than the 60 votes needed to end a filibustered nomination. Although he opposed an identical proposal to change the Senate rules in 2005, President Obama was quick to take advantage of the new rule, now that it could be used to his benefit. In a little more than a year since this rule change, its effect on the federal judiciary has been significant. Nine of the 13 federal courts of appeal now have a majority of judges who were appointed by anti-gun presidents.

While a president’s party affiliation is not necessarily determinative of how his judicial appointees will decide cases, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were behind all the Democrat appointments of currently active federal judges. These presidents are no friends of the Second Amendment, and Clinton and Obama in particular adamantly pursue gun control. To assume this agenda wouldn’t influence their judicial appointments is dangerously naïve.

Many gun owners understand the importance of appointing Supreme Court justices who will faithfully interpret the Constitution, but the importance of lower court appointments, especially to the federal circuit courts of appeal, is often overlooked. Because of the sheer number of federal cases, lower court decisions often set the tone of constitutional debates and establish the rules under which people live for years. Lower federal courts have decided cases on important issues from whether the right to bear arms applies outside the home to the scope of protections provided by federal interstate transportation of firearm laws. The total list of gun-law issues currently pending before lower courts is too long to list here, but these examples illustrate the importance of keeping anti-gun partisans off the bench.

The Supreme Court itself illustrates how a president’s viewpoint can resonate through his judicial picks. In 2010, Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined the dissent in the landmark McDonald case, arguing that there is no constitutional right to own a firearm. And earlier this year, Justice Elena Kagan wrote an opinion affirming the conviction of a former police officer for buying a firearm for his uncle, even though both men successfully passed background checks before receiving the firearm. Opinions such as these from the high court only serve to embolden anti-gun judges throughout the federal judiciary.

Federal judges often serve as a legacy for the presidents who appoint them and the senators who confirm them. A federal judgeship is essentially an appointment for life, subject only to impeachment by Congress. Judges often remain on the bench for decades after the presidents who appointed them have left office. As an example of how long this can be, several judges who were appointed by President Kennedy remain in the federal judiciary on senior status (i.e., in a semi-retired role). These judges illustrate that it’s entirely possible for a president to have an impact on the legal landscape for more than a half-century.

As Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., told the New York Times earlier this year, the filling of judicial vacancies “will affect America for a generation, long after the internecine battles on legislative issues are forgotten.” One of those “internecine battles” that Schumer was likely referring to was his failed attempt to pass a number of expansive gun control measures out of the Senate last year. He clearly sees the recent spike in appointments—thanks largely to the elimination of the filibuster he supported—as a backdoor opportunity to shape our nation’s gun laws in a way that he has been unable to accomplish through legislation. Anti-gun Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., went even further, commenting on “the need to have people there that are of an ideological like mind.”

The midterm elections have now been decided, but the struggle for freedom continues. The appointment of judges can, as much as anything, contribute to President Obama’s stated goal of “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”  This is yet another reason gun owners must stay informed, alert and involved. Now, more than ever, your NRA is here to help you understand where the battle for freedom will be joined.

IN THIS ARTICLE
Chris W. Cox
Chris W. Cox

BY Chris W. Cox

NRA-ILA Executive Director

Follow This Contributor

Chris W. Cox has served as the executive director of the Institute for Legislative Action, the political and lobbying arm of NRA, since 2002. As NRA’s principal political strategist, Cox oversees eight NRA-ILA divisions: Federal Affairs; State & Local Affairs; Public Affairs; Grassroots; Finance; Research & Information; Conservation, Wildlife & Natural Resources; and Office of Legislative Counsel. Cox also serves as chairman of NRA’s Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF), the Association’s political action committee; president of the NRA Freedom Action Foundation (NRA-FAF), which focuses on non-partisan voter registration and citizen education; and chairman of NRA Country, an effort to bring country music artists together with NRA members in support of our Second Amendment freedoms and hunting heritage.

TRENDING NOW
Illinois: House Committee Passes Bill to Close Local Gun Dealers

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Illinois: House Committee Passes Bill to Close Local Gun Dealers

The House Judiciary Committee passed Senate Bill 1657 by a 7-6 vote.

From My Cold Wet Hands: Humorless Scold Targets Squirt Guns

News  

Friday, May 19, 2017

From My Cold Wet Hands: Humorless Scold Targets Squirt Guns

We have yet to reach Memorial Day, but the fun police have already set their sights on at least one cherished summer childhood activity. In an article for Pupsugar.com, titled, “Why Kids Should Never Play ...

Court's Commonsense Conclusion: "There Was a Gun" Isn't Enough to Justify Issuing a Restraining Order

Second Amendment  

Friday, May 19, 2017

Court's Commonsense Conclusion: "There Was a Gun" Isn't Enough to Justify Issuing a Restraining Order

The Supreme Court of North Dakota confirmed this week that simply possessing a handgun while on one’s own private property cannot support a finding of "disorderly conduct" under the state’s disorderly conduct restraining order law. ...

Bloomberg's Everytown Creates "Authors Council" to Push Anti-Gun Propaganda

News  

Friday, May 19, 2017

Bloomberg's Everytown Creates "Authors Council" to Push Anti-Gun Propaganda

As if the country’s media weren’t already sufficiently co-opted by anti-gun advocates, this week, Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety announced an effort to pervert an additional facet of American entertainment. The billionaire bank-rolled interest group has ...

California: Draft "Assault Weapon" Regulation Language Now Available

Thursday, May 18, 2017

California: Draft "Assault Weapon" Regulation Language Now Available

Today, May 18, a draft copy of the "Assault Weapon" regulations has been made available

Federal Lawsuit Challenging California’s Ban on Standard Capacity Magazines Filed

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Federal Lawsuit Challenging California’s Ban on Standard Capacity Magazines Filed

Today, May 18, the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) announced it is supporting, along with the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA), an important Second Amendment lawsuit challenging California’s ban on the possession ...

Nevada: Anti-Gun Bills Fail to Pass Second Chamber Policy Committee Deadline

Friday, May 19, 2017

Nevada: Anti-Gun Bills Fail to Pass Second Chamber Policy Committee Deadline

Today, May 19, was the second chamber policy committee deadline.  Two anti-gun bills, Senate Bill 115 and Senate Bill 387, both failed to pass out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee and are now dead for the 2017 legislative ...

Washington: NRA Files Amicus Brief in Challenge to Kitsap County Anti-Gun Ordinance

Monday, May 22, 2017

Washington: NRA Files Amicus Brief in Challenge to Kitsap County Anti-Gun Ordinance

Last week, attorneys on behalf of the NRA filed an amicus brief in Kitsap County v. Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club (Kitsap II), the case which challenges Kitsap County’s firearm discharge ban and range licensing scheme.  Kitsap Rifle and ...

Illinois: Last Chance to Save your Local Gun Dealer!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Illinois: Last Chance to Save your Local Gun Dealer!

The Illinois House of Representatives may consider Senate Bill 1657, legislation that could put your local gun dealer out of business, at any time! It is imperative that you contact your state Representative IMMEDIATELY and ...

New York: Outrageous Insurance Bill Headlines Long List of Anti-Gun Bills

Monday, March 13, 2017

New York: Outrageous Insurance Bill Headlines Long List of Anti-Gun Bills

The yearly onslaught of anti-gun legislation in the Empire State is concrete proof that anti-gun politicians will never be satisfied until guns are completely banned.  Even though Albany lawmakers passed arguably the nation’s harshest gun ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.